The Q&A Archives: Eggplant Wilt

Question: I planted some eggplants and cucumbers about three weeks ago and they seemed to be doing fine until a couple of days ago when they began to wilt with sun exposure. But when the plants are shaded the plants perk up again. The next day it's the same old song and dance, wilt with sun and perk with shade.

Answer: Wilting during the daytime and recovery at night is usually caused by one of the following problems:

Soil that is too dry. Until they have time to establish a strong root system, those transplants have a very limited root ball that can pump the small volume of soil near the roots dry quite rapidly on a sunny day. This is especially a problem in sandy soils as they cannot hold water very well. Make sure you are watering the plants enough but not so much as to keep the roots waterlogged.

Transplant shock and location change. Plant set out into a garden sometimes take some time to adjust to the light, temperature, etc. of their new environment. However, by 3 weeks after transplanting these plants should be settled in and growing.

Nematodes affect the root system, causing it to be less efficient. This usually comes later although it could be happening this early if the plants were exposed to nematode infested soil or growing mix before being planted out in the garden. Nematodes appear an swollen bumps in a root.

A soil fungus such as one of the wilts. These usually appear later in the spring to summer.

Your plants will probably recover and stop this daytime wilting. However, if your plants continue to go downhill, I suggest you take a plant in to your Extension Office for them to examine and diagnose. Their number is 381-475-8812.

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